Early Holocene Humans and Indigenous Fox in the Neotropical Lowlands of South America
Department of Anthropology, University of Victoria
Monday October 3, 2011
11:30, MAC D103
Tropical areas of the western hemisphere are recognized as important hearths for the domestication of a wide range of plants; however, it has always been somewhat puzzling to consider that few, if any, animals were ever domesticated in the tropical lowlands of South America. Although the domesticated dog (Canis lupus familiaris) was likely the first exotic animal domesticate to have been introduced into the western hemisphere, its widespread acceptance in the Amazon basin appears to have been a very recent phenomenon. A large assemblage of animal bone specimens associated with Early to Middle Holocene Las Vegas occupations of western Ecuador is dominated by specimens of local Sechuran Fox (Lycalopex sechurae). The interment of fox specimens as special inclusions in burial contexts is not unusual in early human burial programs of South America. Along with the relatively late appearance of domesticated dog (Canis lupus familiaris), they might suggest that a commensal relationship had been established between fox and humans by a very ancient date, and raise questions about the nature of Amazonian ‘non-domestication’.